EDITORIAL COMMENT: President must appoint competent team to steer economic recovery

The Chronicle

THE enormity of the task of steering the country’s economic revival requires that President Emmerson Mnangagwa appoints the best team at his disposal into Cabinet. The pool of possible Ministers available for selection into Cabinet includes those who were sworn into the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe on Wednesday and among these is a healthy mix of tried and tested hands and energetic youths from the ruling Zanu-PF party which enjoys a commanding two thirds majority in the August House.

There are many considerations the President makes before appointing a Cabinet but the foremost qualification for a Ministerial job is competence for a particular portfolio. There is no room for passengers in Zimbabwe’s next Cabinet because the nation expects Government to deliver on the electoral promises chief among which is stabilising and growing the economy.

The incoming Government has an in-tray overflowing with pending matters and needs to hit the ground running. Already, the market is jittery following a wave of price hikes triggered by speculative activities. Saboteurs are hard at work to derail any progress President Mnangagwa might make with his Government and this has been reflected in the chatter emanating from the opposition which is still smarting from the July 30 electoral defeat.

MDC Alliance activists and their sympathisers from the vanquished G40 cabal are relishing a situation where the Government will fail so that they seize the moment and say, “we told you so”.

Right now there is a growing fascination with artificial shortages of a few goods on the market such as cement with alarmists flagging it as a failure of the new Government which has not even been appointed. However, all that will come to naught once Cabinet is appointed in the next few days with indications that President Mnangagwa will deliver a telling blow to naysayers by putting together a winning team which will inspire the markets and stabilise the currency.

In his last Cabinet following Operation Restore Legacy in November last year, the President opted for continuity by including members of former president Mr Robert Mugabe’s last Government while infusing a number of technocrats and retired personnel from the military with specific expertise. Of the new entrants, the likes of Dr Sibusiso Moyo (Foreign Affairs and International Trade), Air Marshal (Retired) Perrance Shiri (Agriculture), Cde Winston Chitando (Mines) and Professor Amon Murwira (Higher and Tertiary Education) impressed in the short period they were in Government and it is our hope that they be allowed to continue their work.

In the run up to the July 30 harmonised elections, President Mnangagwa said if he wins the presidential poll, 25 percent of his ministers would be youths as they are the country’s future. He said young people had a role to play in shaping the country’s development agenda, hence the need to include them in senior Government positions.
“The youth are the future,” the President said.

“I will include the youth in my Cabinet and at least a quarter of my Cabinet will be young because the future belongs to the youth.”

We find this to be progressive and inspiring since young people have the zeal and energy to get Zimbabwe working again. There are many young parliamentarians from Zanu-PF with the requisite expertise for certain Cabinet portfolios and we feel the President should consider them. This will not only inspire the markets and international community but will send a strong message that Zanu-PF is a party which believes in leadership renewal and giving young people a chance.

For certain portfolios requiring technical expertise, the President can even look beyond the party as there are many Zimbabweans of international standing and repute capable of assisting in turning around the economy. To maintain party unity and cohesion, the President can assign senior cadres, some of whom were in the old Cabinet, to the party headquarters on a full time basis so that they can help in maintaining a smooth running of the Zanu-PF machinery.

For continuity, there are certain Cabinet Ministers from the previous one who have proved time and again that they are achievers notwithstanding the debilitating sanctions which have been in place for the past two decades.

Their experience will come in handy in guiding the new appointees to settle down. The President will also be guided by the need to include women in his Cabinet as per requirements of the Constitution which calls for a certain quota to be reserved for women in various arms of Government.

It is therefore a delicate balancing act for President Mnangagwa as he seeks to assemble a competent team capable of taking Zimbabwe to the Promised Land. What is certain is that there is no room for sentiment because a lot is at stake. Becoming a middle income country, with per capita income of $3 500, increased investment, decent jobs, broad based empowerment, free from poverty and corruption by 2030 requires a Cabinet of competent, honest, decent hard workers.